Mexican Oregano vs Oregano: What’s the Difference?

Oregano is a widely used spice in many cuisines over the world. This herb is a type of flowering plant and belongs to the mint family known as Lamiaceae.

Oregano is used both in fresh and dried form and can be found all year round. The small leaves of this herb have a strong flavor and provide a beautiful flavor to many different dishes.

True Oregano-Mediterranean Oregano

The oregano plant also has edible purple, white or pink flowers depending on the type. It has a warm, earthy, and slightly bitter flavor.

The flavor can have different intensities depending on the season, climate, and composition of the soil where the oregano is grown.

There are over 40 types of oregano. However, the most common ones include Greek, Turkish, and Italian oregano. They are also known as Mediterranean oregano.

Mexican Oregano

Mexican oregano is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the verbena family that’s native to Mexico, Southwest America, and Central America.

It has a stronger and slightly different flavor than the regular oregano. Mexican oregano has a citrus and floral note with a hint of anise.

It works as a seasoning in many dishes like salsas, beans, tacos, soups, burritos, enchilada sauce, and braised pork.

Mexican Oregano vs Oregano: Key Differences

Oregano and Mexican oregano are two different types of plants that only have similar flavor and smell, and nothing more.

The differences between Mexican oregano and oregano are visible at first sight when you have them side by side. Mexican oregano has bigger leaves than regular oregano.

When you taste both types of oregano you will also notice that even if the first taste and smell are similar, the afterward flavor is very different.

Mexican oregano has a stronger, brighter flavor with citrus and floral notes and a hint of anise, while regular oregano, has an earthy, slightly bitter flavor and peppery notes.

Not all types of oregano have the same flavor.

Greek oregano has an earthy, savory, and spicy flavor. Italian oregano is with milder spicy flavor than Greek oregano while Turkish oregano has a sweet, slightly spicy, and mellow flavor.

They are all used in their local cuisines and paired well with the local ingredients.

Mexican oregano can give a lovely flavor to beans, soups, stews, salsas, tacos, fish, pork, tomato-based sauces, and seasoning mixtures. Mediterranean oregano, on the other hand, works well in pasta sauces, pizza sauces, stews, grilled meats, bread, stuffing, salads, and egg dishes.

Characteristics Mexican oregano Mediterranean oregano
Family Verbenaceae family Lamiaceae family
Origin Mexico, Southwest, and Central America Greece, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Morocco
Appearance Bigger leaves with white, purple, or yellow flowers Smaller olive-green leaves, pink, white, or purple flowers
Flavor Citrus and floral flavor with hints of anise Earthy slightly bitter flavor with peppery notes
Uses Beans, soups, tacos, salsas, stews, meat Pasta sauces, pizza sauces, grilled meats
Substitutes Marjoram Basil, tarragon, thyme, or parsley

Can You Substitute Oregano for Mexican Oregano?


You can substitute oregano for Mexican oregano if you don’t have any other herb to use. Note that even if they have a slightly similar flavor, they don’t taste the same.

You can use oregano and coriander to give a little fresh and citrusy flavor to the dish and make it taste more like Mexican oregano.

Or you can use only oregano as a substitute for Mexican oregano. However, your dish will have a different flavor not very similar to the flavor like when you are using Mexican oregano.

What’s a Substitute for Mexican Oregano?

The best substitute for Mexican oregano is marjoram. You can use it as a substitute because marjoram has a similar flavor to Mexican oregano.

It has a sweet, earthy, a bit bitter flavor with hints of citrus and pine. You can use marjoram instead of Mexican oregano in sauces, soups, poultry, vegetables, and many other dishes.

However, due to its mild and delicate flavor, you should add it at the end of the cooking in bigger amounts. Use 1 teaspoon of marjoram to replace 2/3 of a teaspoon of oregano.


Difference Between Greek Oregano and Mexican Oregano?

Greek oregano, also known as “rigani” is originated in Greece. It has coarse oval leaves and white flowers and can be found both in fresh and dry form.

Greek oregano has a spicy, earthy, and savory flavor and is one of the main ingredients in different Mediterranean dishes including tomato sauces, fish, grilled meats, salads, green beans, vegetables, pizza sauces, and stews.

Mexican oregano is a different type of oregano, with a different flavor and look, native to Mexico, Southwest America, and Central America.

It has a citrus and floral flavor with hints of anise that works amazingly in different beans, soups, salsas, tacos, stews, and many other dishes.

Greek oregano and Mexican oregano originate from different countries. Thus, they are different types of plants, with different looks, flavors and work well in different dishes.

How Do You Make Mexican Oregano?

Mexican oregano is a flowering plant that belongs to the verbena family. It is made from leaves that have are crunchy texture and small flower buds.

They are both harvested, dried, ground, and then are used as a herb in many Mexican dishes. Mexican oregano can be also used fresh but when it is dried it has a stronger flavor.

It has a grassy and peppery flavor with hints of citrus and anise.

You can grind or toast the dried leaves to get a stronger flavor and use them in different dishes. Mexican oregano pairs well with hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, corn, beans, spices like rosemary and thyme, and more.

It is best to store the dried leaves of the Mexican oregano in an airtight container in a dry and cold place for about six months to preserve their wonderful flavor.


Mexican oregano and the true oregano, also known as Mediterranean oregano are two different types of herbs. They are also used in different cuisines.

Mexican oregano is a staple in Mexican cuisine whereas Mediterranean oregano is popular in Mediterranean cuisines. However, you can find them all over the world.

If you want to cook some Italian, Turkish or Greek dish, use Mediterranean oregano. However, if you want to cook something unique for your family like carne asada, Chiles Rellenos or burritos use Mexican oregano and give your dish a wonderful flavor.

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